HC directs JNU not to take coercive step against Umar Khalid till tomorrow

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today directed the Jawaharlal Nehru University not to take any coercive steps till tomorrow against its student Umar Khalid, who was rusticated and slapped with a fine of Rs 20,000 in connection with a 2016 incident of alleged anti-India slogans being raised at an event.

Justice Siddharth Mridul issued notice to JNU on a plea by Khalid challenging the penalty imposed on him by an appellate authority of the university on July 4 in connection with the incident.

The court said the matter be listed tomorrow along with another plea filed by JNU’s former students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, on whom Rs 10,000 fine has been imposed by the appellate authority.

During the hearing, Khalid’s counsel said the urgency was that two weeks time was given by the authorities to pay the fine amount.

JNU’s counsel said Khalid has been rusticated for one semester starting from July 23.
The court said there cannot be any urgency as far as depositing of fine was concerned and added, “in the meantime, JNU shall not take any coercive steps against the petitioner (Khalid)”.

The court had yesterday directed the varsity not to take any coercive step against Kumar, who has also challenged the penalty.

Both of them have sought direction to quash the office order of July 4 passed by the JNU through the chief proctor.

Kumar has alleged in the plea that there were serious lapses towards observing the principles of natural justice and violation of the high court’s earlier order.
On February 9, 2016, a poetry event was held at JNU in connection with the third anniversary of Afzal Guru’s hanging for his role in the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001.
A high-level panel of JNU had in 2016 recommended a fine of Rs 10,000 on Kumar. It also suggested that Khalid be rusticated in connection with the incident. Besides, financial penalty was imposed on 13 other students for violation of disciplinary norms.
The students had then moved the high court, which had on October 12 last year directed the university to place the matter before an appellate authority to review the panel’s decision.
On July 5, the university stated that the appellate authority had upheld the decision against Khalid and Kumar, and in some cases, the penalty had been reduced.
Kumar, Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, arrested on charges of sedition in connection with the 2016 controversial event, are out on bail.

PCI event:Ex-DU lecturer Gilani moves fresh bail plea

SAR Gilani
SAR Gilani

New Delhi, Former-DU lecturer SAR Gilani, arrested under sedition charges in connection with a Press Club event here, today moved a fresh bail application before a Delhi court.

The accused, arrested on February 16, filed his bail applications before the Patiala House Courts registry and his plea is likely to come up for hearing before a sessions court tomorrow.

Earlier on February 19, a magisterial court had dismissed his bail application after the police alleged that “hatred” was being generated against the government.

Meanwhile, Gilani’s judicial custody was also extended by two weeks by a court here.

Police had earlier told the court that an event was held on February 10 in which banners were placed showing Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat as martyrs.

It had also said the hall in the club was booked by Gilani through one Ali Javed by using his credit card and another person Mudassar was also involved.

At the Press Club event, a group had allegedly shouted slogans hailing Guru, following which the police had lodged a case under sections 124A (sedition), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC against Gilani and other unnamed persons.

The police had claimed to have registered the FIR taking suo motu cognisance of media clips of the incident.

Following registration of the FIR, the police questioned DU professor Ali Javed, a Press Club member who had booked the hall for the event, for two days.

Gilani was arrested in connection with the 2001 Parliament attack case but was acquitted for “need of evidence” by Delhi High Court in October 2003, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005.

Prosecution-defence arguments in Dec 16 gang-rape case

Following are the arguments of the prosecution and the defence on the quantum of sentence in the Dec 16 gang-rape case. The prosecution, arguing for granting the four accused the death sentence, said:

–The case falls in the “rarest of rare” categories, and the accused “don’t carry any element of sympathy due to age”.

–The act was premeditated, and punishment should be awarded as per the gravity of the offence, and not considering the age of the accused.

–The convicts should get maximum sentence, and the court should see that they have raped and killed a helpless woman, even as she pleaded for her life.

–This is the most heinous crime one can commit. The injuries caused to the victim were inhuman and unheard of in a criminal case.

–Her digestive system was ripped open, as if a fruit.

–There is fear in society. No woman is safe in the country. The court’s judgment can change that.

–If the convicts are awarded a lighter punishment, “the public will lose faith in the judicial system”. –Strong message should be sent to society through this case.

–The accused don’t stand a chance to be given an opportunity to reform. The defence, pleading mercy for the accused and a chance for reformation, said:

–Death penalty will not guarantee crime-free society. The accused are all young and can change if given an opportunity.

–Afzal Guru (convicted in the December 2001 attack on parliament) and Ajmal Kasab (lone Pakistani terrorist who survived and was convicted in the November 2006 attacks in Mumbai) were given death sentence.Does that mean terror attacks have stopped?

–Beant Singh who assassinated former prime minister Indira Gandhi (in 1984) was given death sentence, but that could not prevent the assassination of her son and also former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

–In the Batla House shootout, the convict, Shahzad, accused of killing a police officer, was awarded life imprisonment, not death sentence.

–The accused in the gang-rape case were not terrorists, but citizens of India.

–This is not a case that falls under the “rarest of the rare” category. There have been similar cases where death penalty was not awarded.

–Jail is considered as a reform home, and life imprisonment in such a case is a rule, while death penalty is an exception.

–While determining the sentence, it should be ensured what the role of each person in the crime was. The incident happened on the spur of the moment.

–This is the land of Mahatma Gandhi who preached non-violence. Death sentence is not only against Gandhi’s teachings but also denies the guilty their right to life.

–The common plea by the defence was that all the accused had no history of indulging in criminal activities, their families depended on them financially, and the incident took place while they were under the influence of alcohol, affecting their judgment.
(Source: IANS)

Statistics on pending mercy pleas disturbing: SC

“Disturbing” is how the Supreme Court termed the statistics which showed that 17 mercy pleas filed between 1999 and 2011 remained pending for periods ranging from one year to 13 years.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya also noted that the figures “give an impression” that the Centre and the President’s Secretariat “have not dealt with these petitions with requisite seriousness”.

“Before parting with the judgement, we consider it necessary to take cognizance of a rather disturbing phenomena. The statistics produced by the learned Additional Solicitor General show that between 1950 and 2009, over 300 mercy petitions were filed of which 214 were accepted by the President and the sentence of death was commuted into life imprisonment.

“69 petitions were rejected by the President. The result of one petition is obscure. However, about 18 (including Afzal Guru) petitions filed between 1999 and 2011 remained pending for a period ranging from 1 year to 13 years.

“The particulars contained in the judgement give an impression that the Government and the President’s Secretariat have not dealt with these petitions with requisite seriousness. We hope and trust that in future such petitions will be disposed of without unreasonable delay,” according to it.

The apex court made the observation while rejecting Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s plea for commuting his death penalty on delay in deciding his mercy plea, saying that in view of the peculiar facts of the case “we are convinced there is no valid ground to interfere with the decision taken by the President”.

The court also noted that delay in deciding his petition for clemency was due to the “unending spate of petitions” filed on his behalf by various persons.

“We can take judicial notice of the fact that substantial portion of the delay can well-nigh be attributed to unending spate of petitions on behalf of the petitioner by various persons,” According to the bench.

PIL in Supreme Court for release of Afzal’s body

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the government for handing over Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s body to his family and for laying down guidelines on the issue of relatives’ claims over bodies of executed prisoners.

The PIL also sought judicial interpretation of the right to claim bodies of convicts after their execution.

The PIL, filed by NGO Garib Nawaz Jail Victim Welfare Society, said, “The respondent (Centre) also does not bother about the religious right of the relatives of the convicted person after being hanged to death. To perform the religious rituals as per their professed religion is the fundamental right of the family members of the convicted person.

“The family members’ right cannot be shunted out on the ground of security reason as the government has taken in case of Afzal Guru. The family members of convicts suffer serious mental set back due to deprivation of the right of the family members from performing the last rites as per Islamic rituals.”

The petition, filed through advocates Sanobar Ali Qureshi and Ambika Ray, also said the government’s decision to bury Afzal’s body inside Tihar Jail needed to be dealt by the apex court.

According to it. “The decision of the government to retain and bury the body of Afzal Guru convict of Parliament attack case inside Tihar Jail requires the judicial interpretation pertaining to the right to claim body by the relatives after execution of the death penalty of the convict since the sentence in case of death penalty demonstrates hang till death and is silent about the right to retain body by the government.”

Sequence being followed on mercy pleas, says Congress

The Congress Friday admitted that time was being taken to decide on mercy petitions of death row prisoners, but said it was a constitutional process which cannot be “leapfrogged”.

Responding to queries about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) demand for the rejection of the mercy petition of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said a sequence was being followed in the matter.

The BJP demand came after President Pratibha Patil Thursday rejected the mercy pleas of two other death row convicts.

Singhvi said it was not appropriate to link the process of deciding mercy petitions to “one or two cases”.

“It is a constitutional process. Rest assured, as the process goes on in a sequence, it will be dealt with. Some will be accepted, some rejected,” Singhvi said.

He admitted that time was being taken to decide on mercy petitions but added that decisions had not also been taken during rule of the National Democratic Alliance government that the BJP led.

“There is a list which you can’t leapfrog,” he said.

Asked if there was a law that said a sequence had to be followed, Singhvi said, “Common sense is the biggest law”.

The BJP Friday reiterated its demand for the execution of Afzal Guru. It said the delay was because of “vote-bank politics”.

Party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said Afzal Guru’s mercy petition should be rejected at the earliest.

President Patil Thursday rejected the mercy petition of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who was convicted for the 1993 car bomb attack outside the Indian Youth Congress office in New Delhi that killed 12 people and injured 29.

The president also rejected the mercy petition of Mahendra Nath Das of Assam, who was sentenced to death for murdering a person while out on bail in another murder case.

Afzal Guru is accused of collaborating with five terrorists who attacked India’s parliament Dec 13, 2001, killing nine security personnel and staff. The five were gunned down.

Governments get notice on Afzal Guru’s transfer plea

The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central and Delhi governments on a petition by Afzal Guru, on death row for his role in the 2001 parliament attack, seeking his transfer from Tihar Jail to a prison in Srinagar.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha issued notice after the court inquired if there was any jail other than in Srinagar where the petitioner would like to be shifted.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel V.C. Mahajan told the court that under the rules, a convict should be lodged in a jail at the place of his residence. He told the court that Afzal Guru’s 90-year old mother, 11-year-old son and his wife have to travel repeatedly from Srinagar to Delhi to meet him.

Mahajan pleaded that the court ask the central government to respond to the petition.

A resident of Sopore in the Kashmir Valley, Guru was found guilty of plotting the Dec 13, 2001 parliament attack and sentenced to death in 2002. The Delhi High Court confirmed the death penalty in 2003.

The Supreme Court also upheld the capital punishment. Guru’s wife filed a mercy petition to the president after the apex court verdict.

No petition from Afzal Guru in apex court

The Supreme court has not received any petition from Afzal Guru, who has been sentenced to death over the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, court sources said today.

The sources said the Supreme court registry had only got a letter from him in February 2010 pleading for an expeditious execution of his death sentence.

The court registry communicated to Afzal Guru that there was a set procedure to approach the top court from jail. He was told he should file a proper petition and route it through the jail superintendent.

Since then Afzal Guru has not sent any communication to the Supreme court, they said. The 40-year-old was convicted for being a key plotter of the 2001 attack that killed 13 people in the high-security Parliament.

Guru, a medicine and surgical instrument dealer in Jammu and Kashmir, was sent to the death row in 2002. The Supreme court upheld the sentence a year later. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out 20 October, 2006 but his execution was stayed after his wife sought clemency from the president.